Hospitals Sued Patients Over Medical Debt While Getting Billions of Taxpayer Money in Relief Aid

Some of the richest hospitals made a massive of profit hundreds of millions of dollars in 2020 after accepting federal healthcare bailout paid for by American taxpayers.

One of the hospital corporations, Northwell — which received $1.2 billion in federal funds from the CARES Act — sued over 2,500 patients in 2020 for failing to pay their medical bills during the COVID pandemic. Northwell dropped its lawsuits only after the Community Service Society exposed the practice.

The New York Times reported that one of Northwell’s facilities, the Lenox Hill Hospital, billed over $3,000 for COVID tests, which was more than 30 times the normal cost.

Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York, co-founder of Health Care for All New York campaign, told Democracy Now about the greed of hospitals who are cashing in on taxpayer money and suing taxpayers for more money during the deadly coornavirus pandemic:

I think what our work has shown — and we’ve looked now at every single hospital in New York state and found that they have collectively sued over 50,000 patients, despite all being charities, and over 5,000 patients during the pandemic — is that there’s a deep problem here with our so-called not-for-profit hospitals.

And I think we really need to take stock as a country and say, “Look, either you get to be a charity and you get to raise money and not pay taxes and pull down billions of dollars — for example, $178 billion in CARES Act funding went to hospitals during the pandemic — you can get all that, but you must not sue your patients. Suing your patients hurts them.”

…My concern is: If we’re going to invest our public dollars and our public good into hospitals, what business do they have in suing patients? And let’s just talk about what happens with these lawsuits. Most patients, you know, are sued, and what happens is there’s a default judgment. If you look at Lenox Hill, for example, the hospital with the $3,000 CARES — corona test, they sue patients — they sue patients for about 1,900 bucks.

That’s the median amount that they’re suing for. So, they’re suing patients for not very much in terms of their huge surpluses. They have a nearly $100 million surplus. And they’re suing patients for about $1,900. Altogether, they’re suing patients — they get 34 times more in their annual surplus than they get in what they’re suing for patients over five years. So, what’s going on here? They’re ruining patients’ lives while reaping surpluses in revenue. This is not the way to pay for healthcare, by suing your patients. That’s the problem here.

(Sources: Community Service Society, The New York Times, Democracy Now)

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